I felt prepared when I was pregnant for the first time.
Don’t ask me why. I was 20 years old and had just moved to a new state 3 months prior to the positive pregnancy test. My sweet boy was a complete surprise, yet I knew I was ready.
Having been a full-time nanny for the past few years, I knew what to expect until they were about 10 years old. I knew what kind of diapers I preferred (Team Pampers!) and how I wanted to attempt baby-led weaning and cloth diapering.
However, being a nanny couldn’t prepare me for being a postpartum mom for the first time. Between a complicated delivery, a NICU stay, and mental health struggles, becoming a new mom shocked me.
What does it feel like to be a first time mom?
Being a first time mom is an adrenaline rush in the best way possible. You are solely responsible for a sweet blessing almost overnight. While there’s the 10 months of pregnancy to prepare, nothing reminds you of this responsibility quite like seeing those 10 tiny fingers wrapped around one of yours.
Your heart aches with how much you love your new baby. I felt completely overwhelmed with joy and love when my first boy was born. Even now when I watch him play and practice something he’s learned, I get emotional.
- YOU created life.
- YOU brought your child into this world.
- YOU are teaching your child constantly.
Becoming a first time mom is an extremely beautiful thing.
Does becoming a mom change you?
Yes! Becoming a mom changes you. Although, it might not be in the ways you expect.
When your identity shifts to include “mom”, your priorities, your lifestyle, and overall perspective shifts as well. But did you know that your brain physically changes too?
The anatomy of your brain rewires and reshapes itself during pregnancy and into postpartum. No wonder you feel outside of your normal self!
What does a first time mom need to know?
The transformation of being a mom for the first time is rather unexpected. While we hear others say that becoming a parent changes your entire life, we don’t know the gravity of it until we experience it ourselves.
Few things prepare you for the overwhelming and overflowing love you have for your child. Although, there are a few things you should know and hold in your back pocket during this life change.
1. You’ll get the hang of it
2. Your confidence increases over time
3. The only opinion that matters for your baby is you and your partner’s
4. You don’t need to be perfect – and you shouldn’t be!
5. You will feel overwhelmed by it
You’ll be overwhelmed by:
5 Ways Being A First Time Mom Will Shock You
1. You might experience a postpartum mood and anxiety disorder
As much as postpartum depression is talked about in the media — and it’s still not enough — PMADs shock first time moms because there is more to them than excessive crying.
New moms might experience:
- Postpartum depression
- Postpartum anxiety
- Postpartum OCD
- Postpartum psychosis
- Postpartum PTSD
They aren’t often discussed in pregnancy classes because they aren’t fun or uplifting. The reality is that there’s a lot more to postpartum than the sweet baby bliss. When women don’t know the messy downsides of postpartum, then they question their ability to be a mom. They don’t know that they aren’t alone in the mess.
2. I know everyone says this but . . . it goes by SO fast
It’s a cliché, but the truth behind it is overwhelming.
My son is 15 months old now. He has outgrown my lap when I nurse him to sleep and communicates with his sign language more effectively than I expected. Honestly, I’m not sure how it happened so fast.
The pace of time passing continues to surprise me each day.
3. You might feel invincible
After starting therapy for postpartum anxiety and taming my postpartum rage, I suddenly felt invincible. My son was four months old, and I felt like a bolder and more confident version of myself.
I nursed in public, searching the crowds for spectators to glare at. I stood up to my mother, enforcing boundaries and protecting the way I wanted to parent. I spoke louder when called on in staff meetings.
I was my son’s everything, and I felt utterly invincible.
Plus after the experience of labor and delivery mixed with the weeks it took to learn how to breastfeed, I’m not as easily embarrassed as before. There’s nothing like birth to humble you.
4. You’re still the same person
You are bolder. Your priorities have shifted. Your body is different. Yet you are still the same person, you just might feel different physically and emotionally.
5. It might feel like you are the babysitter
I worked for multiple families as a nanny for over five years. Transitioning to my own child was easy; I knew what to expect from the caretaking side. But there were days I felt like I was a nanny again, watching the baby until mom came home.
Some days, especially the early days, it might feel like you are the babysitter rather than the mom. It’s hard to realize the responsibility we’ve been given — virtually overnight.
What is the hardest part of being a new mom?
For me, the hardest part of being a new mom is questioning everything. While this doesn’t fully go away as the kids get older, it isn’t mixed with postpartum emotions.
Doubting yourself, including your parenting decisions, can greatly impact your mental health, your relationships, and your family life. It’s okay to ask questions — in moderation. It’s okay to research — in moderation. It’s okay to read all the books and take all the courses — in moderation.
But trust yourself in the process, too.
What is the best advice for a first time mom?
As you become a first time mom, bring that sweet baby home, and navigate this new life, remember to pause and acknowledge every part of it.
Recognizing the good and the messy parts of being a mom help increase our self-awareness and prioritize pausing, even in the busy seasons of life.
So take a breather and reflect because the days truly do go by so fast.
If you want to prepare your mental health for becoming a first time mom, I encourage you to grab the free Postpartum Brain Toolkit! It walks you through the foundation of every postpartum mood and anxiety disorder, what symptoms to look for, and how to monitor each one so you can get back to enjoying postpartum as a first time mom.
About the author: Riley Blanton is a mom, wife, and soon-to-be therapist. When she’s not writing about mental health on PostpartumBrain.com, you can find her drinking homemade lattes or spending time with family.
Grab your free 8+ Ways to Say “Heck No!” to Visitors After Birth at Post Partum Brain!